ERROR PAGE

History Errors:

All data has been researched by Brenda Tengelin, and any questions, comments or corrections should be sent to her at:  jnbtenge@whidbey.net

Web Page Errors:

 Don Bowers dbowers@yahoo.com

 

 

Home Index Errors Photo

 

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is Genealogy?

  2. What is Genealogical Research?

  3. What are the objectives and goals that you have for your genealogical work?

  4. How does one get started doing genealogy?

  5. What information does one look for when doing genealogical research?

  6. How does one do genealogy?

  7. How does one use the Internet for genealogical research?

  8. What are your favorite sites on the internet for genealogical information?

  1.  What is Genealogy?

Genealogy is a branch of history that determines family relationships.  The word genealogy is derived from the Greek "genea" meaning race or family and "logos"  meaning discourse or study of.   A genealogy is an account of the decent of a person or  family from an ancestor or family progenitor.  In a narrow sense genealogy is the study of individuals and their relationships to their family.  In a broader sense it is a scientific study of individuals, their life story and how their stories are interwoven into the fabric of history.  Family history is the basis of all history. Combining family histories creates the history of a community, combining community histories creates state histories and so on until national and world  histories are created.    History is about people and that is what genealogy is about. 

  1. What is Genealogical Research?

Genealogical Research is the discovery, investigation and interpretation of historical facts.   It involves seeking out factual accounts of past events, and interpreting those findings in the context of history in an objective and logical manner.

  1. What are the objectives and goals that you have for your genealogical work?

    Our main objective is to find out just who our ancestors are and learn about their life and times.  We pursue all our ancestral lines with that same objective. Our goal  is to determine as many descendants of our ancestors as we can by forward searching research and to publish those results when sufficient information is found. This practice has been the most rewarding to us as it has brought us into contact with hundreds of "cousins". We have become close friends with many of them and all of them have been most generous in sharing their family history with us. If it wasnít for our genealogy we would never have had the opportunity to meet so many interesting kinfolks.  

  2. How does one get started doing genealogy?

    We usually recommend that people get started by simply going to a library and reading a few books on "How to do genealogy".   There are a great many books available and it would be worthwhile to purchase a few for your own personal use.   Each book covers different aspects of genealogy and some specialize in very specific areas.  However, you will learn things from each of them which will greatly aid you in your research and will help immensely in getting you off to a good start.   There is also a great deal of information on the internet that can help you learn.   However, it is not as comprehensive or valuable as we have found in books, particularly the scholarly genealogy texts that cover broad aspects of genealogy.  Take a course in genealogy that are offered by local genealogy societies, community colleges and community educational schools.   One should seek out and visit local genealogical societies and the nearby LDS Church family history library.  There you will find helpful, knowledgeable people that can help you get started and guide you to in your efforts.

    To starting actually doing basic genealogical research you should start with yourself and proceed backwards in time to identify your ancestors. Record (preferably in a computer genealogy program that is designed to efficiently record and manipulate this type of information), your full name, your date and place of birth.   If you are married,  record who you married, the date and place of the marriage and your spouses name, date and place of birth.   Record any nicknames, occupation, titles, religion, education, military service, physical characteristics, medical data and most any other things about yourself that you wish to record.    Record similar information about your spouse and each individual relative or ancestor that you encounter.  When recording female names use the genealogical convention of using only their maiden name.  By using the maiden name you will avoid any confusion as that name does not change upon marriage.   To expand your research into the more broader aspects of genealogy start to accumulate and record biographical sketches or stories of the individuals and events and enter that information into your program.  Do that as much as possible with each person you add to your record.    After putting in yourself and your spouse, add in your children to complete your  family.   Then add the spouses of your children and your grandchildren if you have them.   That will complete your immediate family and your children's families.. 

    After completing you and your family start on your parents family by adding your parents and all your siblings.   Then add your siblings families by adding their spouses, children, grandchildren, etc..  As a rule attempt to complete whole family units which include all members of each family unit..   At first you may only know the nickname of a distant cousin.   Record whatever you know, especially biographical sketches and stories.   Later you will be able to acquire more information on that individual and can add it or modify what you have.  Most computer programs have well developed methods of handling typical data recording problems. Problems like, how do you handled adopted or illegitimate children, unmarried couples, step relatives, half brothers and sisters, and people who are so close to the family that they are called "Aunt"  or "Uncle"  but who are not related?   These individuals are not related by "blood", however they are important members of the family and should  be included in any family genealogy.  All families have these situations and they need to be treated with sensitivity and common sense so as not to offend or embarrass anyone by excluding them from the family genealogy or by including them in a way that may be insensitive to the way they want to be known as part of the family.  Our rule is to enter information in a way that the individual providing the information wants it to be shown or in the way that they we know they will be comfortable with.     These situations can usually be best handled by entering information like the individual wants it shown and by adding footnotes to explain anything that the reader of the genealogy would see to be unusual.  Do not include any information that the individual does not want included.

    After doing your parents, start on your grandparents.   Add them and all their children and as much information as you can obtain on them.   Your effort should be directed at developing the whole family unit of each of your grandparents as this information will be important in seeking and finding who your great grandparents are.   Basic genealogical information is call BMDB which stands for Birth, Marriage, Death and Burial.   If you can obtain the date and place of these four events on any individual you will have recorded the major events in that persons life.  It then becomes a never ending journey backward in time from one ancestor to his parents and then to the parents of the parents.   Again it is important that this be done as whole family units as each unit will provide a varied and substantial  information base for stepping back in time one generation at a time.  This method will help insure that will be searching for information on your ancestors and have not gotten off track pursuing people with the same surname but who are not your ancestors.    

  3. What information does one look for when doing genealogical research?

    Basic genealogical information is call BMDB which stands for Birth, Marriage, Death and Burial.   If you can obtain the date and place of these four events on any individual you will have recorded the beginning. middle and end of the major events of that individuals life.  In fact, most  hereditary societies (Daughters of the American Revolution, Mayflower Descendants, Sons of the Confederacy, etc. ) often require proof of at least two of the three (birth, marriage and death) events for each one of your direct ancestors to prove lineage back to the ancestor that allows you to become a member of that society.  The major information you should be seeking is both the date the event took place and the place of the event.  Many people record just the dates of events when they should also record the place.  Beyond the  basic four (BMDB) events are literally thousands of events that can be sought out and recorded on any individual.  Some of these are immigration, naturalization, baptism, military service, divorce, employment, education and even prison and court proceedings.  It is the involvement of our ancestors in these events and particularly how they handled their parts that provides the history and character of our families.   Genealogy may not be for you if you are ashamed to have ancestors who do not meet your own social standards.   For you will find illegitimate children, husbands that abandoned their families, suicides, outlaws and even the proverbial horse thief or worse.  All families have them.  You will also find far more of the opposite, where ancestors have distinguished  themselves by their contributions to society by military service, establishing churches and other institutions, being preachers, doctors, lawyers, mayors, merchants, politicians, commissioners, chiefs and community leaders in a variety of ways.   These are the people that make up the fabric of society as well as the fabric of your family.   You may also find nobility and status in your search.   However, it will do you well to remember the words of Sir Thomas Overbury, in his Characters (1614):  "The man who has not anything to boast of but illustrious ancestors is like a potato - the only good belonging to him is underground."

    In searching for records pertaining to your ancestors you should be seeking the facts and reporting them in an objective way so as to describe the  truth of the matter.  To alter the truth or color it in anyway is a serious disservice to genealogy and your family and serves no useful purpose.   

  4. How does one do genealogy?

    One does genealogy by seeking out factual information about events in peoples lives.  This can and should be done by interviewing your parents and grandparents and older relatives.  Find out what they remember of their parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, great aunts and great uncles, etc.  You will find that this will often get you at least names and the make-up of your ancestor's family units which provides an excellent starting point for your research.. Attempt to get information on when and where these named individuals were born, lived and died.   This information will guide you to places where you can look for records to confirm the information given you.  You will quickly run out of information as you proceed backwards in time beyond peoples memories. 

    The best source of information is written documents.  You should seek out basic BMDB (birth, marriage, death, burial) records.   These should be sought for all your close family members and your direct line ancestors.   Unfortunately, in the United States birth and death records were not widely kept by civil authorities until about 1920 when most states passed laws requiring vital birth and death records to be kept.  Thus unless your ancestors lived in large cities, which had health departments and kept vital records, you may not find birth and death certificates for those events if they took place prior to 1920.   This is why old family bibles with birth, marriage and death dates or other similar family records are extremely valuable as these are often the only written documents about pre- 1920 vital events that exist. Always ask your older relatives if they know of any family bibles and who might have them. Most states have recorded marriages from early pre-statehood colonial times and these records are quite valuable.

    The next most important records from a genealogical research viewpoint, beyond birth, marriage, death and burial are census records.   They provide a picture of the family unit every 10 years (except in 1890 as that census was destroyed).   It is true that they contain errors and inaccuracies.  However, they show family relationships and place individuals in specific places at specific times.  That information provides direct  guidance on where to look for other records which more that makes up for any errors in census records.  Knowing that the Jones  family resided in say 1900 in Anytown, Any County, Anystate tells you to search the City and County records of Anytown in the period around 1900 for more information on the Jones family.   A search of the courthouse records may find Jones marriages (marriages usually took place in the home county of the Bride, just as they do today), divorces, wills and other court records, tax records, deeds where they bought or sold property or gave property to their children.   A search of the local library may find microfilms of local newspapers or genealogies that someone has written about the Jones family.  Through deeds and tax records you may find exactly where they resided and may find relatives still living on the property or nearby.   A search of the churches and cemeteries in the where you ancestors lived may reveal graves of long lost relatives.  Discoing and collecting these records and information will soon add up to an extensive account of the history of your family.   

    There are thousands of places where you can look for records pertaining to your ancestors.  By being creative and resourceful you can seek those records out and add to your knowledge of your family.  You should be searching for records in courthouses, libraries, archives, churches,  genealogical and historical societies, and patriotic, hereditary, civic and business  organizations.   They all may have records on your ancestors.   The task and challenge is to locate these records and determine what they tell you about your ancestors. 

    One other fine point is the "get them all" rule. When going thorough records you should record all the entries that contain the surname you are searching {"get them all"), even if you don't think those entries are part of your family.  Eventually you will find that many of those entries do relate to your family and it will save you a trip back to the courthouse.  You will also need that information to determine how many other people with the same full name or surname are living in the area.  Just because they have the same name or surname doesn't mean they are the same person or even are related.   There are often more than one person with the same name in the same area at the same time.   It is thus imperative that you obtain sufficient evidence to be able to identify which of these persons are part of your family and which are not.  Prior to this century most families were large, usually averaging a dozen children.   Tradition was to use family names over and over again.   Almost every family had a John or a William.  In fact, it is difficult to find a family that did not have one of those names in it..   Thus in any given area there might be three or four John Unusual's.   The Unusual surname may be very rare and due to that fact everyone with that surname is likely related.  However, with four John's it may be quite a task to figure out exactly how they are related.

    One also needs to remember that most people 100 years ago could not read and write.  Thus names were recorded as the record clerk heard them and the clerk would write then down how he thought they were spelled or how they were spelled in that area.   Thus there are numerous ways individuals have their name recorded in records, nearly always dependent on a clerk who did not know the individual but who did the best they could to record the individuals name.  One must search for all spelling variations of a name ensure finding all records.    It is also a good practice to date and indicate where you found each piece of information.   That will allow you to find it again in case there is some question regarding your copying of it.  

  5. How does one use the Internet for genealogical research?

    The Internet has had a major impact on genealogy.  Every day more and more genealogical information is being posted on web pages making it easily available to all and reducing the need to travel long distances to find information.   Browsers and search engines can instantaneously find information, search documents and make copies by the click of a mouse.  This saves hours of boring line by line searches of documents and having to copy by hand what is found. 

    By far the greatest impact the Internet has had is in bringing researchers together.   Researchers can share their information, ideas and  problems easily and and  then proceed to quickly and efficiently work together to advance the genealogy of the family and very often solve genealogical problems that have plagued researchers for years.   

    We use the Internet primarily for finding distant cousins that are researching the same family lines that we are searching.  We do this by

    1. Listing our web pages on a number of genealogical and commercial search engines.
    2. By placing queries on USGenWeb (www.usgenweb.org) and Rootsweb  (www.rootsweb.com) Surname and County sites.
    3. By listing our ancestors and interests on various lists maintained by USGenWeb, Rootsweb and the LDS Church. (www.familysearch.com)

    These activities allow others to find us and we use these same lists to find researchers with common interests.

    We also use the Internet to a very limited extent for finding source documents.   Currently there are two difficulties with doing this, .  The first is that what is on the Internet is only a very small part of the source documentation that is available.    There are almost no government records such as birth, marriage, death, deeds, and wills available on the internet.  A notable exception it the Social Security Index which if your ancestor died after 1937 can be of significant help.  This is a very severe limitation and not one that will be overcome very rapidly.   More and more census records are being posted and in a few more years it is likely that most of these very valuable records will be posted.   There are many but not nearly enough cemetery inscription surveys being posted on the Internet.   The second difficulty is the accuracy of the source information.  Nearly all of it is someone's translation of what  a document contains.   This is almost always a translation from  handwritten script which is often faint or illegible, as well as, difficult to read.   Thus translation errors will be present.   One should always verify any translation by seeking copies of the original document and comparing it to the translation.  Obtaining copies of critical original documents of our direct line ancestors is a mandatory requirement that we do to insure that we are getting reliable information.

    I believe that many people new to genealogical research believe that they can just type their name into a search engine and there whole family genealogy will be reveled.   Such is not usually the case.  Unless someone has researched your family and put that research up on the Internet you will not likely find what you are looking for so easily.   While it is true that you will quickly find some of your ancestors listed in genealogies, GEDCOM files or lists posted on the Internet it is likely because someone has done research to old fashioned way by going to courthouses, libraries, archives, cemeteries, and interviewing relatives to compile a family genealogy.   It is also quite possible that you will contact a distant cousin who has done much work on some branch of your family.   That does not happen as often and most think it should.

  6. What are your favorite sites on the internet for genealogical information?

We use Rootsweb ( www.rootsweb.com ) and closely associated USGenWeb ( www.usgenweb.org ) sites for 90 % of our Internet genealogy searching.   These organizations are non-profit and are run mostly by volunteers.   They are probably the oldest and  largest and most extensive sites on the internet dedicated to genealogy.   The services they provide in information, education, e-mail lists, record archiving projects, genealogy specific search engines, family record files and many other services is outstanding and growing rapidly.   One needs to continually check with these sites just to keep up with there offerings.    Although they are free to all users, it is highly recommended that you provide some financial support, particularly if you use their services as they are a non-profit volunteer operation that depends on on there users support.

 

 

 

Home Index Errors Photo